The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has announced that 896 secondary schools across Australia will receive funding for 116,820 new computers under the scheme.
According to the Minister, these schools have been identified as being most in need of new school computers by meeting the criteria of a ratio of one computer for every eight students or worse. The $116 million in funding from round one of the National Secondary School Computer Fund will bring these schools up to a ratio of 1:2.
Senator Gillard said under the funding agreements, education authorities have up to two years to ensure the purchase and installation of the computers in the 896 schools. Round two applications will open on 14 July, allowing all remaining schools across Australia to receive funding for a ratio of 1:2 by the end of the year.
In a statement to the media, Senator Gillard claimed that the Rudd Government is providing grants of $1000 per computer to schools through State and Territory Governments or non-government school block grant authorities. This funding process will deliver savings through bulk purchasing arrangements that can be used for associated costs, she stated.
“For example, if a computer can be purchased for $500, the remaining $500 can be used for upgrading power supplies or installing wireless connections,” she said. “The provision of school computers has traditionally been the responsibility of State and Territory Governments and the non-government school sectors.”
According to Senator Gillard, the Rudd Government believes there is an urgent need to upgrade the information and communications technology Australia's secondary schools.
“Old computers will be replaced by new ones, giving our students better quality equipment in their final years of their secondary schooling and additional computers will be available for students to use,” she stated. “Funding for Round One was determined following an audit by state and territory authorities of all schools across Australia, including the public, Independent and Catholic schools sectors.”
The Rudd Government announced an extra $200 million in the recent Federal Budget, taking the total funding for computers to $1.2 billion over five years, said Senator Gillard. This includes $1.1 billion for the National Secondary School Computer Fund and $100 million towards the Fibre Connections to Schools initiative.
According to the Senator, the Government has allocated $32.6 million from this funding over a two year period to supply students and teachers across Australia with online curriculum tools and resources for the classrooms of the 21st century.
Assistance will also be available to schools to make the best use of ICT with the development of support mechanisms. This will receive funding of $10 million over three years.
In addition, $11.25 million will be directed, through State and Territory Governments, to professional development in information and communication technology, she said.
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